𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑒𝑟 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑆𝑎𝑚𝑑𝑟𝑢𝑝 𝐽𝑜𝑛𝑔𝑘ℎ𝑎𝑟 𝑖𝑠 𝑜𝑛 ℎ𝑖𝑔ℎ 𝑎𝑙𝑒𝑟𝑡, 𝑒𝑠𝑝𝑒𝑐𝑖𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑦 𝑎𝑓𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑑𝑒𝑡𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑒𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑛𝑒𝑤 𝑐𝑎𝑠𝑒𝑠 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑚𝑢𝑛𝑖𝑡𝑦 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑞𝑢𝑎𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑒 𝑓𝑎𝑐𝑖𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑦
Karma Tenzin from S/Jongkhar
Despite seeing a surge in the number of Covid-19 community transmissions this week, which prompted the National Covid-19 Taskforce to extend the ongoing lockdown in the district till January 30, the situation in Samdrup Jongkhar is under control, with the district taskforce fully prepared with a contingency plan for such an emergency.
Since an 84-year-old man tested positive for Covid-19 in the border town last week, the taskforce invoked the Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) first, by imposing complete lockdown for 72 hours and followed by contact tracing, isolation, and mass testing.
According to the Incident Commander (IC) of the Dzongkhag, Dasho Tharchin Lhendup, most of the primary and secondary contacts from Gomdar, Wangphu, and Orong gewogs have been identified and isolated; some in facility quarantine and others in their respective homes.
“The positive cases are mostly from clusters like police camps, which have been effectively cordoned off,” he said, adding that the same process will be followed in the coming days till the outbreak is contained.
The extended lockdown, however, is likely to have a serious implication on the local residents and the members of the business community, who have been reeling with the impacts of the border closure, mandatory quarantine, and skyrocketing prices, after having been identified as a high-risk area for almost two years.
“I am worried about paying the rent for my shop this month,” said Karma Choki, whose restaurant has been running at a loss since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
Likewise, the manager of a Foreign Worker Recruitment Agency shared his frustration about how the present lockdown has once again brought his operation to a complete halt.
“After remaining closed for almost two years, we could restart our operation when the taskforce permitted the import of Indian workers. But who knew it would be so short-lived,” he said, still hopeful of continuing once the crisis is over.
Meanwhile, during the Zoom Meeting among members of the National COVID-19 Taskforce and the health Technical Advisory Group and media personnel yesterday, Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering has clearly mentioned that the duration of the lockdown will depend on people’s compliance with the protocols and that the duration needed to eliminate the virus is two weeks.
Meanwhile, the taskforce has facilitated the export of oranges after a 24-hour blackout and allowed gypsum from Pemagatshel to unload in Samdrup Jongkhar after 48 hours, following strict security and health protocols.
In addition, security at Gomdar, Dewathang, and Wangphu has been further strengthened after a 30-year-old tested positive in Gomdar hospital’s flu clinic. Further, adequate security personnel has been deployed in every designated outpost in the district to prevent cross-border movement.
“We are in constant touch with the Eastern Covid-19 Taskforce while deciding on important matters pertaining to the outbreak and associated challenges,” said Tharchin Lhendup, adding if the circumstances improve, they will initiate the zoning system and gradually allow movement within these zones.
The health ministry yesterday announced detecting nine new cases in Samdrup Jongkhar in the last 24 hours (one is a contact in a quarantine facility and eight from the community).